Across the country, a statue of a panic-stricken girl hiding under her school desk has been startling viewers with its visceral portrayal of the impact of gun violence. And its creators hope the work will also lead to a change in the political landscape this November.
As a response to school shootings in recent years, lockdown drills have become a routine part of emergency preparedness at many schools. The mental image of children taking shelter under desks or hiding in closets has become symbolic with the epidemic of school shootings.
Inspired by the “courage and passion” of student activists in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, associate creative director/copywriter Dan Crumrine, senior art director Sean Leonard and motion graphics director Caleb Sawyer teamed up with Change The Ref and the Giffords organization for a campaign centered around a startling 3-D printed sculpture of a girl hiding under her desk during a school lockdown.
“We wanted to help them in any way that we possibly could and not just do something for them but do something with them,” Crumrine told Adweek. “It felt like this is something that we’ve got to take action against, if not for the kids going through it right now, then for our own.”
The “Last Lockdown” statue, along with five campaign videos, was used by student activists at 10 voter registration rallies at strategic locations around the country on Sept. 15.
“We wanted something that really confronted people with the reality that children are facing, that really confronted adults,” Crumrine explained.
“Traditional ads … can pretty easily be ignored, but something that was 3-dimensional, that was tactile, that you could go up to and inspect and really study and look at and see the fear on the face of this girl in this sculpture was something that … we wanted to use to get the message across,” he said. “The idea was really that it made people feel unsettled. It gave you a little bit of an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.”
The sculpture conveys an intentional ambiguity as to whether the subject is reacting to a drill or an actual school shooting. In most cases of lockdown alerts, children do not know if the situation is a practice or whether a real threat is on school grounds.
“It forces parents to really pay attention and take notice that this is what their kids are going through,” Leonard said. “It’s one thing to hear about, it’s another to actually see what it looks like.”
“We called it ‘The Last Lockdown’ because that’s what we were hoping for. We’re hoping that this will not be a normal thing,” he added.
Student activist, co-founder and co-president of Students Stand Up Sarasota Hailey Landry said her first experience with a school lockdown happened in third grade when she and her classmates were told “code red, this is not a drill” and hid under their desks in darkness “and waited there for a few hours until our parents came and got us.”
Last year, she said her high school had two lockdowns.
“It’s a reality for students to go through the lockdowns,” Landry told Adweek, “and the parents kind of know what’s going on, but you really can’t understand the experience until you’ve actually had it.”
The “Last Lockdown” statue “brings anyone closer to the experience,” she said.
After brainstorming ideas, the creative team arrived at the concept for “The Last Lockdown” and reached out to Change The Ref, an organization founded by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, as well as the Giffords organization, which provided funding for the endeavor.
“It’s heartbreaking that students are beginning to accept this threat and the drills to prepare for it as normal,” Giffords communications director Katie Peters said in a statement. “We are so proud to partner with [the creative team behind “The Last Lackdown], and with student organizers from across the nation, to bring this project to life.”
Sawyer led the design of the statue, in collaboration with Crumrine, Leonard and Manuel Oliver.